The government has been put on the spot for designing and constructing Lamu jetties without considering people with special needs.
Jetties in Lamu play a vital role since they are the only entry and exit points into and out of the town and other adjacent islands. Ninety-nine per cent of movement and transport by residents is done at sea.
Addressing the public in Lamu, women representative Ruweida Obbo expressed disappointment with the discriminatory manner in which the jetties were built. Ms Ruweida wants restructuring of the over 10 jetties in the county to enable them serve people with disabilities.
She also called on the county and national governments to ensure special amenities are put in place in order to enable disabled persons access public facilities.
“It’s high time the government thought of reconstructing our jetties to favour persons living with disabilities. I have received complaints from many of my physically challenged brothers and sisters who say they can’t climb the steep stairs of our jetties. Our jetties and the various public offices here in Lamu should be designed in a way that favours the disabled. There should be alternative pathways for them to use,” said Ms Obbo. Lamu Disabled Persons chairman Simon Njagi said it was unfair and discriminatory for the disabled community to be denied the right to access of public premises due to the way they were constructed.
Mr Njagi said that they are sometimes forced to pay able-bodied people to carry them to various offices in the county or to use jetties. “It’s both uncomfortable and unfair. Many of us keep away from the jetties and even public offices for fear of embarrassment since we can’t climb stairs. Some of us are blind, some are deaf while others are crippled yet no measures have been put in place to include us,” said Mr Njagi.